RND/ To now consider the era of large scale, full single player campaign videogame Modding as dead. No biggie, and only a few arbitrary cyborg tears. In which dead specifically means ‘untold hours duck-scrabbling through debris clogged vents’. Standing around to admire the toxic (aesthetic) atmosphere of utterly ruined, post-apocalyptic Earth of G String as more than worth the $£13.49 the developer’s charging.
Taken as an artistic experience, G String can be seen as a runaway success. Rarely has the Source Engine been utilized to this extreme degree, and the results often look beautifully, tragically desolate. But there exists the strong underlying sense that it’s somehow all for nothing – that the mod itself symbolically stands for the death of large scale videogame modding generally. A glorious end perhaps – but an end nonetheless.
Nine whole years it took to complete this. Holy shit. Something about this fact, about the drawn out length of time it took, seems to perfectly sum up the universe of modding and the specific world represented here. In fact they feel inseparable. And all so some poor player could repeatedly headshot potato-dumb, hyper generic sci fi bad guys over and over within wonderfully atmospheric scenery. As though everything – the look, the feel, meaning itself – has become subservient to the rote mechanics of gameplay, the pew pew grind. Fuck shooting; shooting is boring and shooting is death (as though it wasn’t already obvious.) Remove the guns, and one might have to start to actually question why we’re all here in this strange, tragic and as-though oddly haunted place. (Haunted perhaps, by the player alone.) Raw “Dead MMO World” syndrome.
It’s when a game demands I pay attention to subtle changes around me (enemies popping into view from a distance or barely peeking around a corner) while showcasing so much animation and texture detail that I start to get eye strain. So many games boil down to “react to something appearing by clicking on it ’til it goes away”. There’s a reason camo is more effective near brush and wilderness than it is in buildings and office spaces.
– Lv4Monk, Do You Ever Feel “Exhausted” by Modern Graphics?
Note: not everyone wants to automatically be assigned the cheese role of some dick headed Space Cowboy, armed to the teeth, a ‘trouble shooter’ whose only possible response to trouble and mystery is to shoot it in the face. It’s almost as if the shooting is some repressed symbolic respite from the overwhelming look and feel of the ruined landscape – as though to say, if we didn’t mindlessly shoot everything in sight, we’d be forced to come face to face with the full existential implication of these post-apocalyptic aesthetics. That is, fully engage with the total crushing existential weight of Time – it’s impossible age, it’s quietly terrifying oblivion of useless rust.
Here’s Jim Sterling however on absurd(/ist), borderline Rococo levels of detail and visual clutter:
As gorgeous as it looks, Metro Exodus is visually (and, from an audio perspective) incredibly cluttered. There’s so much detail in absolutely everything. So much immaculately detailed rust, and dirt and grime and brickwork, and shit on the floor, that everything blends into each other, including the enemies. And it’s not just in terms of what I can see – it affects the gameplay as well, because, every two feet, you’re caught on some twig or some bit of metal, just something you didn’t see, that pins you in place. Trying to navigate a particularly littered area, is an exercise in being really annoyed. [..] It reminds me of Red Dead Redemption 2, where Rock Star went overboard with the details, with the extraneous additions. [..] There is attention to detail, and then there is obsession with detail.
– Jim Sterling, Metro Exodus – I’m Not Saying Far Cry Is Better..
There seems a lightly bizarre irony about taking nine years to make such a fantastically / tragically detailed first person single player modification. That perhaps it would have taken far less time to express the ruins of time if the mod had been less cluttered. It’s as though ‘the waste that is time’ and ‘the extreme amount of time it takes to make a highly detailed mod featuring endless piles of rubble’ inhabit the same space or mode of thought.
As Phillp K. Dick states, ‘Kipple’ is useless objects, like junk mail, yesterday’s newspapers or Kim Kardashian. Dick said that when nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. Yet perhaps the developer simply made a strong aesthetic choice and it could not of taken any shorter to make the final game – to capture a certain look of this particular imagined future. Yet the implications for modding are clear (despite all the dense smog and smoke and random stairwell cries heard in game): nobody really cares. That the developer believed in their vision and had the courage and fortitude to keep at it after all these years is only possibly encouraging. The alternative is that they were simply anal and pissing into the silent howling winds of ‘AAA-Indie’ change.
That modern players no longer really care for such so-called ‘epic’ modifications. Some nice new skins or a comprehensive texture upgrade for some slightly older titles is ‘nice’, but the era of vast, sprawling, multi-level first person single player mods has long since past – and ‘G String’ is the final lonely wolf cry from atop the nearest long-abandoned FPS Mods pile. Far shorter, more compact stand alone experiences are the trend. Perhaps like Borat’s sweaty Mankini, such mods are little more than throwaway megalithic monuments to their own faded (videogame consumer) obsolescence. Alas.
Some noclip screenshots. 2560 x 1440, edited in Gimp. Abstract Encounters with The Video Real; long live the Queen’s cyberpunk G String.